How To Make A Screen Lid For A Reptile Tank

Do you want to make sure your reptile’s tank is secure and escape is impossible?

Are you looking for an easy and affordable way to make sure your pet stays safe and nothing makes it’s way inside?

One sure way to keep your reptile from escaping is by learning how to make a screen lid for your reptile’s tank.

Tanks don’t always come with a lid or screen, and often one is needed to keep your pet safe.

A good lid will fit over the top of the tank entirely, and you can find several sizes in stores or online.

But if you are making your own, the lid will be customized to fit any size tank you have.

Keep reading for more information and what you need to know about making a screen lid for your reptile tank.

how to make a screen lid for a reptile tank

What You’ll Need

This section outlines what you will need to make a robust, secure, and long-lasting screen lid for your reptile.

While some might have the items on the supply list, a quick trip to the hardware store will allow you to get everything you need.

Metal Hardware Cloth

Metal hardware cloth is going to be the central part of this project, and you will want something secure and strong to prevent your reptile from escaping or easily knocking the lid away.

There are several types of hardware cloth available, so for smaller reptiles, we recommend 1/4 inch, but you will have the ability to choose a suitable size for your project.

If you are having trouble finding metal hardware cloth or want a finer mesh, an aluminum screen would also work for this project.

This will allow airflow and stay strong, especially if your reptile manages to reach the top and grab at it.


wood for screen lid

To make the frame for the hardware cloth, you will need to have wood.

We recommend using standard 1×2’s available at lumber stores for a low price.

The length of the wood pieces will ultimately depend on the size of your aquarium.

Take these measurements before you go to the store.

If you don’t have a saw at home, the lumber store usually can help you out and cut it for you.

There could be a small fee for them to do this.

Wire Cutters

Since we are using metal hardware cloth, you will need some wire cutters to cut through the material.

Unfortunately, regular scissors just can’t cut through the material, but the wire cutters will make short work of it.

These are available in a variety of sizes, but pick one you can easily handle.


We recommend approximately eight 1.5″ inch nails for this project.

They will help provide support to keep the pieces together for this project.

Packages of nails are available at your local hardware store.

Wood Glue

Wood glue will make sure your lid stays secure and stable for as long as you need it.

This type of glue bonds wood the best and creates a tight seal.

The wood glue will be doing most of the work when it comes to bonding the pieces together, with the nails put in for added support.

Heavy Duty Stapler & Staples

A heavy-duty stapler will be needed for this project, and the one you use for filing your papers won’t cut it.

These staplers are used to go into wood and other materials and have a much more reliable hold.

These are readily available at most hardware stores.

Measuring Tape

A measuring tape will make this project so much easier.

This is necessary to make the lid just the right size.


A hammer is a pretty handy tool, and you probably have this around your home for general repairs or hanging things.

If you don’t have one, pick one up at the hardware store while you are there.

Step By Step Instructions For How To Make A Screen Lid For A Reptile Tank

In this section, we will go over the process of creating your lid.

It is best to read the instructions thoroughly before putting this together.

#1 Measure Your Aquarium

The first thing you need to know is the exact measurements of the tank, so your finished screen lid will fit correctly.

This step falls in before you gather your supplies, as you will need to know how much wood and mesh you will need.

Use your tape measure to get the measurements and write them down as you go to make sure you don’t forget them when you go to the store.

Be sure to measure around the outside of the top of the tank as the frame will need to fit over the whole container.

#2. Cut The Hardware Cloth

After you have gathered the necessary tools and supplies, use your wire cutters to trim off any excess hardware wire carefully.

cut hardware cloth

You will want to cut the hardware cloth approximately one inch larger on each side than the opening.

Be careful when you are cutting the hardware cloth as the wire is sharp.

After cutting, fold the one inch excess over each edge.

This will also give you an idea of how the screen will ultimately fit.

#3. Create The Wood Frame

The next step in the process is to create a wooden frame to hold the screen in place.

wood frame creation

Using the cut pieces of wood, apply wood glue, and fix the parts together, gluing one edge to another piece’s inner edge.

Take your hammer and nails and secure those newly glued pieces of wood with two nails per joint.

This adds more stability and helps the pieces of wood stay together securely to give the wood glue time to dry in place.

Once the wood glue dries, it will be a solid bond.

It is a good idea to let this dry thoroughly overnight before moving on to the next step.

#4. Staple In The Hardware Cloth

After the wood glue on your wooden frame is thoroughly dry and secure, you are ready to staple in the hardware cloth.

staple hardware cloth

Slip the hardware cloth into the inside of the wood pieces and go along the edge with your stapler and heavy-duty staples.

This step secures the screen portion to the frame to create the lid.

It is important to remember as you go, to hold the stapler directly onto the wood, so your staples go all the way into the wood.

If your stapler is not flush on the wood, the stapler will not go all the way, creating a weak spot in the frame.

#5. Put The Lid On The Tank

After stapling, your project is done, and all you have left to do is put the lid on the tank.

If you have measured correctly, your lid should fit securely but not too tightly.

You now have a homemade and customized screened lid for your favorite pet reptile.


One of the great aspects of this particular lid is it is customizable.

As we discussed above, you can change out the hardware cloth with a finer mesh.

If you are feeling particularly ambitious, reinforce the corners of the wooden frame.

Do this by adding another long piece of wood diagonally across the top of the lid, nailing it to two of the opposite corners.

Another modification is to miter the corners if you have access to a miter saw and feel confident.

This is more of an aesthetic modification and not a necessary change.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need A Screen? – Yes, if you want to make sure you don’t have a reptile who escapes.

A screen is a great way to make sure you don’t lose track of your reptile.

Depending on the type of reptile you have, a screen will help with ventilation and keep unwanted things from getting in.

Can I buy a screen instead of making one? – You can, if you don’t want to go out and buy these supplies or don’t think this is a project you want to do.

Screens are available for purchase online in a variety of sizes.

You can also find them made from all sorts of materials.

The major downside is you won’t have as much freedom for customization if you are buying a pre-made screen from a store or online.

Your homemade screen is made just to fit your specific tank, but if you buy online, you might not find precisely what you need.


After reading this, we hope you will have a good idea of an easy way to make a screen lid for your reptile tank.

The process is cost-effective and means the lid is customized for your tank.

This is a great beginner project even for those who aren’t as confident in their woodworking abilities.

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